Friday, October 21, 2011

The Venue: Walnut Street Theatre in Falls for 'Aspects of Love'

The Walnut Street Theatre is a designated National Historical Landmark. 
Main entrance to the theatre and box office.
Plaque just outside of the main entrance.
(photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Tonight I return to the Walnut Street Theatre to take in a second performance of their production of 'Aspects of Love.' It's always interesting to visit another theatre company outside of New York, London or my home city of Honolulu. Although one would compare their history, venue and productions, one can also see how each theater is surviving in these tough economic times.

The venue was opened in 1809 for use by an equestrian circus. It was not until 1812 that the building was converted to a legitimate theatre. The Walnut Street Theatre name was not used until 1820. Today it is the oldest continuously operating theatre in the United States.

The Walnut Street Company presents five plays from September to June with familiar titles while experimental and newer works play in the smaller studio spaces that adjoins the mainstage. Their current mainstage season, their 203rd, opens with 'Aspects of Love.' The season continues with 'The King and I,' 'Mousetrap,' 'God of Carnage' and 'Buddy.' The Walnut boasts one of the the largest subscription base in the world at over 50,000.

The mainstage seats 1,052 on two levels in a standard center seating section with a left and right seating sections. Two center aisles and two side aisles are accessed from separate doors at the rear of the auditorium. Tickets indicate which door to enter. The balcony level is reached through stairs at each side of the lobby to a mezzanine lobby. The wide auditorium and stage ensures that sightlines are generally good from almost every seat. Again I generally avoid any seats beneath the balcony because I just find it distracting when I can't see the top if the proscenium. It's like my view is being cut in half.

The friendly box office staff is able to assist patrons with ticket arrangements even during performances. Entry to the theatre near the box office leads to a gift shop selling show souvenirs, gifts and jewelry. Stairs downstairs leads to Barrymore's Cafe, a full bar serving snacks, coffee and deserts. A counter along the back wall offers lots of seating. Sprinkled throughout all three levels of the lobby are artifacts (photos, playbills, posters) of productions presented at the Walnut.

Visit for more information and to purchase tickets online. Box office hours: Mon 10am-6pm; Tues-Sat 10am-6pm on non performance dates and 10am to showtime on performance dates; Sundays closed on non-performance dates and 12pm to showtime on performance dates.

Box office
Above and below: Orchestra level lobby. The marble statue depicts
Edward Forrest, the first American stage star. 
Behind the statue is stairs leading to the mezzanine level.
Barrymore's Cafe
This metal sign, located just outside the theatre, designates the
historical importance of "The Walnut."


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